Question:
Salaamun Alaikum, Kindly provide us the arabic text along with English translation and reference of the following: 1) Imam Ali (a.s.) said that the number paths to Allah are the number of breathes we take. 2) While passing near to a Church / synagogue, a companion said to Imam Ali (a.s.) that I wonder how much polytheism is happening over there . Imam Ali (a.s.) replied that I wonder how much Allah is being worshipped over there. Thanks. Jazakallah.

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Answer:
In the Name of Allah, the All-beneficent, the All-merciful Dear Mr. Shabib Zaidi, In reply to your letter of 25/7/1395, below please find answers to the questions you have raised: Narration One: This statement has not been recorded in Shi’ite principal sources, but certain books - mostly mystic-Shi’ite ones - have attributed it to the honourable Prophet (S.A.W.). Also, some great Shi’ite scholars have accepted its content and explained it in details. Certain others, however, believe that it is spurious. Below is a reference to the sources mentioning ﴿the ideas of﴾ these three groups: A. Shi’ite Scholars who have taken the passage to be Prophet’s saying: 1) Seyyed Haydar Amuli has quoted it from the honourable Prophet (S.A.W.) See: a) Tafsir al-Muheet al-‘Azam, vol. 6, (with research notes by Muhsen Musavi Tabrizi), p. 57; publisher: Nuron ala-Nur. b) Anwar al-Haqiqah wa Atwar al-Tariq wa Asrar al-Shari’ah, published by the above-mentioned publisher. Page 119 of the Introduction, and 732 of the book. 2) In his Mathnavi Taqdis, the late Naraqi has called it a hadith (narration). See page 205 of the book annotated by ‘Ali Afrasiyabi. Publisher: Nahavandi, Qumm, 1381/2001. 3) Hamadani, Abdul Samad, Bahr al-Ma’arif, page 219 (on the authority of Sharif Darabi Shirazi’s book Tuhfat al-Murad), publisher Al-Zahra, Tehran, 1372/1993. B) Shi’ite Scholars who have narrated the passage, but not as a Hadith [text] As mentioned above, many scholars have quoted this passage and explained it in details without calling it a hadith. Some of these scholars are: 1) Qadi Sa’id Qummi, Muhammad Sa’id b. Muhammad, in his Sharh-e Tawhid-e al-Saduq, edited by Najaf Quli Habibi, vol. 2, p. 732, publisher: Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance’s Sazman Chap wa Intisharat, Tehran, 1415 Hijri calendar. 2) Shahid Thani, Zayn al-Din Ali, Haqa ‘iq al-Iman Ma’a Risalati al-Iqtisad wa al-Idala’, edited by Mahdi Rijaii. Publisher Hazrat Ayatullah al-‘Uzma Mar’ash Najafi’s Library, p. 174 3) Hurr ‘Ameli, Muhammad b. Hasan, Ithbat al-Huda bil-Nusus wa al-Mu’jizat, publisher: Mu’as-siseh al-A’lami lil Matbu’at, vol. 1, p. 77. He has quoted Shahid Thani as having offered the report: “الطرق الي الله..... - the paths to Allah…” as a proof of the [argument] he had raised [in his book]. It is thus understood that shaykh Hurr ‘Ameli had confirmed Shahid Thani’s statement. 4) [While discussing a hadith], the late Majlisi has also quoted the same statement (but not as a hadith [text]) along with an interesting exposition. Page 137, volume 64, of his Bihar al-Anwar. Also, see: Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir, Mir’at al-Uqul fi Sharh-e Akhbar al-Al-Rasul, edited by: Rasul Hashemi, Muhsen Husayni Amini, and ‘Ali Akhundi. Publisher Dar-al-Kutub al-Islamiyyeh, Tehran, 1363/1994, vol. 7, p. 59 5) “al-Mawa’iz al-Adadiyyeh” by Muhammad b. Muhammad b. Hasan Husayni, known as Ibn Qasim ‘Amoli (Shahid Thani’s grandson). Publisher Tali’eh-al-Nur, Qum, 1384/2005, p. 185 6) Mulla Hadi Sabzewari, Sharh al-Asma, and Sharh-e Nibras al-Huda fi Ahkam al-Fiqh war Asrar-o-ha; Research work by Bidar Far, Muhsen, Qumm, 1380/201, p. 235 7) The late Fayz Kashani has repeatedly made references to this statement, and explained it, but has not considered it a hadith. For example, see: a) Fayz Kashani, Muhammad b. Shah Murtada, Da’iratul Ma’arif; publisher: Madreseh ‘Ali Shahid Mutahhari, p. 27, b) Ilm al-Yaqin, volume 2, pages 1150, 1428, 1468 and 1472 c) Ibid, volume 1, pp. 19 and 43 and… d) Fayz Kashani, a Collection of Treatise, edited by Hasan Qasemi and…, publisher Madreseh ‘Ali Shahid Mutahhari, Tehran, 1378/1898, volume 3, p. 15. 8) See: a) Sadr al-Din Shirazi (Mulla Sadra), Muhammad b. Ibrahim, Tafsir al-Qur’an al-Karim, edited by Khajavi, Muhammad. publisher: Bidar, Qumm, l366/1987, vol. 1, p. 104 b) Lahiji, Muhammad Ja’far b. Muhammad Sadiq, Sharh-e Risalah al-Masha’ir Mulla Sadra, publisher: Bustan Kitab, Qumm, (affiliated to) Daftar Tabliqat Islami, Hawzeh Ilmiyyeh Qum, p. 597 9) Shibr Abdullah, Haqq al-Yaqin fi Ma’rafit-e Usul al-Din. Publisher: Anwar al-Huda, vol. 1, p. 27 10) Assar, Muhammad, Pasokh Namah: An Answer to 21 doctrinal and philosophical questions. Publisher: Bustan Kitab, Qumm (affiliated to) Daftar Tabliqat Islami, Hawzeh Ilmiyyeh Qumm) p. 387 11) Al-Mu’jam fi luqat al-Quran wa Sirr-e Balaqatuh, Under the supervision of Wa’iz Khorasani. Publisher: Astan Quds Razavi’s (vol. 7, p. 136) C) [An Example of] Scholars who have Considered the Above Statement A Spurious and Fabricated Tradition In glossary to his book, Ihqaq al-Haqq, Ayatullah Mar’ashi has considered the above-referred report as forged. See Shushtari, Nur-Allah b. Sharif al-Din, Ihqaq al-Haqq wa Izhaq al-Batil. Publisher Hazrat Ayatullah al-‘Uzma Mar’ash Najafi’s Library, vol. 1, p. 185. How greatly differs his view from Aqa-Bozorg-Tehrani’s, whose maxim was: “The paths to Allah are as many as the number of breathes of the created beings.” See, Aqa-Borozg-Tehrani, Muhammad Muhsen, Tabaqat ‘Alam al-Shi’ah; A six- volume book. Publisher: Ismailian. Introduction to vol. 1, p. 10 In closing, we would like to mention that the statement in question has been narrated by Sunni [scholars] as a Prophetic tradition. See the following books: a) Gowharin, Sadiq, A Glossary of Jalal al-Din Muhammad b. Muhammad b. Husayn Balkhi’s Mathnawi Terms and Expressions (Farhang Luqat wa Ta’birat Mathnawi Mowlavi).Publisher: Zawwar, Tehran, 1381/2002, volume 6, p. 228. b) Qaysari, Dawud b. Mahmud, Sharh-e Fusus al-Hikam of Dawud al-Qaysari (Research done by Ayatullah Hasan Hasanzadeh Amuli). Publisher: Bustan Kitab, Qumm (affiliated to) Daftar Tabliqat Islami, Hawzeh Ilmiyyeh Qum), vol. 1, p.179. c) Also, mention is here made of some scholars who have independently written treatises, explaining it: 1) Najm ad-Din Kubra, the renowned mystic (arif), “Risalah fi-Turuq ila-l-Allah” translated into Persian by Allamah Mahmood Dehdar. See: Aqa-Bozorg-Tehrani, Muhammad Muhsen, Az-Zarieh ila tasanif al-Shi’ah. Publisher: Dar- al-Azwa’, vol. 10, p. 259. 2) Among the collection of manuscripts in Egypt, a treatise by an unknown writer has given explained the statement in question. See Tarazi, Nasrullah Mubasheri: Fihrist Kutub Khati Farsi Dar Mesr (المخطوطات الفارسيه )- “Persian Manuscripts in Egypt”. Publisher: Iranian Medical School, the Institute for the Study of Medical History, Islamic History and Complementary Medicine, vol 1, p. 249 What This Hadith Means When literally translated, it means: the paths to Allah are as many as the breathes that the created [human] beings take (or as in certain copies: …. as many as the souls of the created [human] beings are). Varieties of “Probable Interpretations” 1) To a number of people it may denote the very claim of “pluralism”: All the path[ways] are right; there is no unacceptable religion because whoever holds a belief is in fact on the path to God. Answer: This is not correct. It is inconsistent with the spirit of the teachings of the Qur’an, the Sunnah of the Prophet (S.A.W.) and the sayings of the House of the Prophet, Ahl al-Bayt, peace be upon them. Detailed relevant discussion should be looked for elsewhere. 2) Certain people of different religions can reach God. This may be acceptable and correct if it is properly explained and justified [as follows]: if one [anyone, anywhere in the world] acts upon his knowledge, and accepts the truth as much as he has knowledge of it, [and if this person] is [indeed] inclined towards the truth and travels the same course, he will definitely be drawing nearer to God: a traveler of the divine path. Thus a non-Muslims, even a Buddhist or a pagan, who is unaware of reasons, proofs and truth of other religions or has heard about these and has made inquiries into them but has failed to grasp them - because of the limited scope of his knowledge - his effort will draw him near to the truth. Thus the guidelines [that put one] “on the course of truth to tread the path towards Got the Almighty and Glorious,” - is not an outcome of contemplation and beliefs. It is [the consequence of] one’s [true] intention to make sincere efforts to investigate the truth, to make the truth his quest and [indeed] be inclined towards the truth. [For full elucidation, see Allamah Tabatabaii’s Risalah al-Wilayah, chapter four]. 3) If a person is one of those who are given to contemplation, accuracy and intellection, he might, in various ways, obtain the priceless jewel - the guidance and reality of the religion It is fact that ways and means of obtaining knowledge of Allah, the Mighty and High, are considered to be four: (1) through reasoning (aql), (2) through the heart and natural disposition fitrah, (3) through experience (4) through the Religion. Yet, it is clear that the acquisition of knowledge and [coming to] certainty [are] differently [graded] - quantitatively and qualitatively. People acquire knowledge [ma’rifa] depending on their gift and capacity. [When the issue] is considered this way, it will mean that there are various ways of gaining propinquity to the Divine. (See Allamah Majlisi and Seyed Abdullah Shibr, referenced above). Martyr Mutahhari says, “Whereas people should move along a straight path - a high-way, each one has his own specific inner way, to which the holy Qur’an refers as one “sirat” but a variety of “sabils”. “A good religion is not the one that desires to put the adherents in a strained situation, making them move forward through a side road. Rather, it is the one that recognizes the side roads in their multiplicities, which means: acknowledges infinite individual disparity, has an appreciation for diversities due to climatic, regional and ethnical differences and even accepts temporal alterations while it guides people in moving towards a certain highway” (Source: Martyr Mutahhari’s Notes, vol. 2, p. 82). 4) The Next probability: Each of the created beings is by itself a token and a sign of God, and thus a way to reach God, glory be to Him. a) Explanation: Various Qur’anic verses indicate that the created beings are all signs of God, blessed and transcendent is He. Now, through contemplating of these creatures, one may attain ma’rifa, higher knowledge, of God. Therefore the expression in question means: since each created being is a sign of the existence of God, the Mighty and Majestic - and a path to come to know Him - ways of reaching God will be as many as the created beings are. b) If we desire to interpret the [aforementioned] report: “…. as many as the number of breathes of people”, on [the basis of] this [latter] probability, we should say that each and every breath is a way towards God, the Almighty and Glorious. If a person happens to be able to cover this path, he has met with Him - the Almighty God - in every breath [he takes]. Mawlavi, the great mystic (arif) has said, “With each breath they take, Suffis rejoice twice [since they draw nearer to God], the spider[like people are busy] drying flies [=living a worthless material life] 5) Further Probable Interpretations of the Report: · The report may also mean: Not only the believer, the disbeliever, the righteous, the wicked, but also the totality of created beings [inclusive of: the inanimate, animate, the jinn and the angels] reach God through their own particular ways. While the wicked meet with God, the Mighty, through His attributes of Majesty and wrath, the righteous meet with Him through His attributes of Glory, Kindness and Benevolence. Each individual - depending on his actions and innate acquisitions - will meet a unique degree of Divine attribute of Beauty or Majesty. (See point 8 mentioned above: Sadr-al-Din Shirazi’s commentary on the Qur’anic verse “Guide us on the straight path”. P. 104). 6) Here is one of the mystical interpretations of the hadith: The totality of the created universe has originated from Divine Names and Attributes. Its subsistence is dependent upon the discipline from these Names and Attributes. In other words, each phenomenon from among manifestations in the created world is under the lordship of particular Names and Attributes. It is important to note that according to mystical doctrine, each existing being has originated from a particular composition of names and attributes to which it will finally return. For instance, like Satan, certain persons will be placed under the training of the name “muzzil = مظل = misguider, and certain others under the name “hadi = هادي = guide. (Considering the infinitely conceivable levels of divine guidance/misguidance, infinite beings might be placed under these names). It can, therefore, be said that the paths leading to God, the Mighty and High, are as variant as the number of people are. Mystics have resorted to the following Qur’anic verses as support [for their understanding]: · - Suratal-Baqrah, verse 31: “And He taught Adam the Names, all of them” · - Suratal-Baqarah, verse 115: “To Allah belong the east and the west: so whichever weay you turn, there is the face of Allah! · - Surat Hud, verse 56, “There is no living being but He holds it by its forelock. Indeed my Lord is on a straight path.”, and also certain hadiths such as, کل مسير لما خلق له Shaykh Saduq has narrated. This report can be translated as: Every human being has been created for a purpose, and will be assisted to attain it.” (See al-Tawhid, page 356. Publisher: Jama Mudarrecin Qumm, 1398 H.A.) 7) In all the probable interpretations given above, the word “path [tariq]’ meant “the takwini path- that is, the creative, ontological, path”. It may also denote “the tashri’i path - that is, the path the divine law has delineated” Explanation: Each mokallaf (that is, one on whom the fulfillment of religious worship is obligatory), is obliged to fulfill certain commands, because taklif is in proportion to one’s scope of ability, and temporal-local conditions surrounding the mokallaf. The holy Qur’an says, “ لايکلف الله نفسا الا وسعها "- Allah does not put a burden on a person beyond its ability“. This means, “teaching and learning” might be a certain person’s duty, whereas “work” might be another’s just as “managing household chores” might be a third person’s duty. Thus, we may not find two persons with exactly similar religious duties. Such is [the task of] acquiring knowledge of God and other fundamentals of religion because of the difference in people’s [depth and extent of] knowledge. [However, as explained under item (2) of "varieties of Probable interpretations" ), each person is expected [to act] as much as his ability. That is why, each mokallaf has been assigned a separate path according to the religious law, shari’ah. (See Fayz kashani’s ilm al-yaqin, as reference above). Therefore, this hadith does not seem to be so firm. But its content is justifiable and confirmed through Qur’anic verses and other traditions. That is why great Shi’ite scholars and mystics have resorted to it and have explained its purport. “Pluralism”, as is commonly understood, should certainly not be considered as the meaning of this tradition Narration Two Among the traditions at hand, we could not find anything discussing this report. Could you possibly send us a part of the Arabic text to help, انشاء الله?

Refrence:

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